This article was originally published in the ABTS monthly newsletter.

During his time at ABTS, Awad, our 2020 graduate from South Sudan, was often a source of encouragement to his fellow students and to staff and faculty alike. Today, serving in one of the most unreached areas of South Sudan, where witchcraft and ancestor worship are common practice, Awad continues to reflect Christ and act as a source of encouragement, not only for the community in his village, but also for us here at ABTS.

When we transitioned to the hybrid Integrated Theology Program in early 2020, Awad faced some obstacles in continuing his education while serving in South Sudan, especially with the lack of internet connection in his village and with how difficult transportation is in his area. Still, through the Lord’s grace and Awad’s perseverance, he was able to finish his degree and graduate later in 2020.

Speaking about his time studying theology, Awad shared:

My experience studying at ABTS changed my life for the better. Before I went to seminary, I had difficulties with public speaking, which impacted my ability to serve with groups, and so I used to stick to outreach to individuals or small groups. At seminary, I learned how to lead services, give sermons, and tailor what I say to be relevant and suit my context. Ive also learned to be gentle and empathetic when I approach others.

What Awad learned at seminary would later help him in his ministry. Awad had always felt called to reach out to others with the love of Jesus. When he began serving in his village after graduating, Awad had a vision to share the gospel with the unreached people in his community. “These areas do not have any churches,” shared Awad, “and people rely heavily on evil spirits.” He first started out by sharing the gospel with his family.